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Take a bow frontline warriors – Deccan News

Hyderabad: Long before the city wakes up, this tribe sets out on their job, armed with brooms and dustpans, keeping the streets of Hyderabad clean every day, week after week and round the year.

And their job continues, much after the morning walkers and joggers return home and even when they head to their offices, this tribe will still be on the road, sweeping aside and cleaning up everything that lives in the city leaves in its wake every night.

Exposure to dust, lack of sleep, back pain from long hours of strenuous work and all those after-effects are what they take home after nine and at times, 10 hours, on the streets. Most of these frontline workers who hit the streets before dawn are women. Unlike for others, their day starts around 3.30 am and before heading out to work around 5.30 am, they finish their household chores, including cooking for the family. With ‘duty’ sometimes stretching beyond 2.30 pm, the only meal they have from the morning is around 11 am, mostly a quick tiffin under a tree or on the pavement.

The Bin-free City initiative of the GHMC has increased their workload, with the workers, who earlier used to put the garbage in bins, now have to fill the same in bags and shift it to a collection vehicle. To clean the main roads and bylanes in the GHMC limits spread over 650 square km, there are 18,352 sweepers deployed, all of them outsourcing employees hired by the civic body.

The sweeping activity begins by dividing them into teams. Each team consists of seven workers, with six of them sweeping the road while one, mostly a male staffer, pulls the rickshaw and collects the waste. To monitor this activity, for three teams, there is one Sanitary Field Assistant (SFA), who in turn are supervised by Assistant Medical Officers of Health and higher officials in the Municipal Corporation.

Each sweeper cleans around 1.5 km every day and designated stretches are allotted for each team. Interestingly, no matter what advancements there are in technology, the sweepers still use conventional brooms. Since bending and sweeping for long hours is too tasking on the back, they have made slight innovations, such as tying a long stick to the broom, thereby enabling themselves to stand and sweep without bending.

The entire workforce was on the job even during the pandemic, because for them, there was no work from home option. And the salaries, which were meager earlier, are now slightly better with the State formation seeing their salary being hiked thrice. The last hike was in November 2020 when Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister KT Rama Rao increased the pay from Rs 14,000 to Rs 17,000.



Source: Telangana Today

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